Are you looking to get a pet that you and your partner can take care of together? Here are some tips on how you can care for a pet with your partner.
So, you and your partner have finally settled down. Everything seems perfect. After you’ve successfully discussed your intention and weaseled your way into getting a new place and moving in together, fast forward a few months, and you have your new home. [Read: 14 tips to make living together work for you]
With your new pad and workplace locations reconciled, your personal stuff moved, walls painted, and routines established, the immediate future looks pretty promising. Then, out of nowhere, one of you blurts out, “We should get a cat.”
Now, before you agree and waltz into a pet store, there are certain things you should understand about getting a pet as a couple. For couples who didn’t have pets prior to moving in, getting your first “co-owned” pet is a serious step in your relationship. Most of the time, couples decide to get a shared pet as a test and/or a form of training to determine whether or not you are ready for the responsibilities involved with raising kids of your own.
People who have experienced owning a pet can vouch for its similarity to raising a kid. Pets, like human beings, have their needs. And being the superior and more understanding species, it is the human’s duty to provide for the pet’s needs, in return for their companionship.
Owning a pet requires both partners to be ready for feeding, grooming, and cleaning up excrement and, potentially, vomit. Along with this, pets occasionally require special attention, plus the added expenses of food, supplies, and vet bills.
What should you do before you get a pet?
Before you think yourself ready to get a pet, consider the following.
#1 Are you sure you want a pet? Think about the long run. Can you picture your daily life with a pet? As mentioned above, pets require time, money, and effort. Additional chores like grooming, trips to the vet, and dog walks would have to be squeezed into your tight schedule.
Let’s say you get a medium-sized dog, with a life span of 12-15 years. You can imagine that you’re going to spend time, energy, and money taking care of your pet in that time period–every single day. If you think that the benefits of a pet outweigh all the troubles, then you are probably ready for one.
#2 What kind of pet would you like? He’s a dog person, she’s a cat person. This could be a sensitive issue if both of you have different preferences for pets. Although cats and dogs are the typical choice, some couples prefer other species for pets. These may include rabbits, hamsters, turtles, hedgehogs, spiders, snakes, or other critters made popular by Tumblr.
In choosing a pet, make a “pros and cons” list. Less complex species require little attention from their owners, but have shorter lifespans than more complex ones. Top tier pets, like dogs and cats, require more care, but are highly intelligent and responsive to their owners.
#3 Where should you get your pet? Once you’ve solved the question of species, the next question is where you can procure your fur baby. You have a few options: a pet store, a private breeder, or a shelter. These choices have their own advantages and disadvantages.
For instance, pet store animals are expensive, but they are provided with basic veterinary services like vaccines and deworming medication. Pet store animals are also taken care of by professional animal handlers, so you can be guaranteed a nice, healthy pet. On the other hand, private breeders cost less and provide more variety than those found in the pet store, but you will have to take care of registration and vaccines.
If you really want to get the best deal, it is advisable to adopt your pet from the local shelter. Not only do you accomplish a good deed, but adopting a stray often costs nothing more than the checkup from the vet.
#4 Do some research on your preferred pet or breed. Make sure that you do this before getting your pet. Even if you’ve decided on the kind of pet that you’re getting, you cannot base your decision on preference alone.
Compare the breed’s traits to your activities and lifestyle. Certain breeds of dogs or cats can only be comfortable in a specific environment. If you live downtown in a flat or apartment with minimal space, get a pet suited for this type of environment. Mismatching your pet’s character with your current environment will only cause problems for you and distress for your pet.
#5 Divide the chores. Now, this is the tricky part. Getting a pet as a couple means sharing the responsibility of taking care of it. It is advisable that you divide the tasks between the two of you, and schedule them ahead, so that you’ll adopt it as part of your routine.
Daily tasks such as feeding, walking, and cleaning up the litter could be scheduled on alternate days, while other occasional tasks like vet visits and grooming can be assigned to either owner, and can operate on a rotating schedule.
#6 Organize some space for your pet. While fish, hamsters, and other small pets can be content in an aquarium or terrarium, larger pets require a larger living space to do their business. Small apartments dictate that pets share the living space of their owners. This could become a cause of small incidents, such as chewed household items, knocked-over vases, broken appliances, and fur on your clothes.
To avoid these problems, set the space for your pet with a leash or pet barrier. You can also train them to avoid specific areas of your home. If you have a bigger home with an available yard, you can allow your pet to spend most of their time outdoors, and allow them indoors in case of bad weather.
Which brings us to an important tip…
#7 Housebreak your pet as early as possible. If your pet will be spending a lot of time indoors, you should consider housebreaking them to avoid the hassle of getting poop and urine stains in inconvenient places. Housebreaking includes allowing your pet to familiarize themselves with places they can and cannot poop or pee in. The earlier you start the housebreaking regimen, the more effective it will be as your pet grows.
#8 Behavior training. Pets are still animals. There are times when their instincts will get the best of them. Punishing them for something they don’t understand will only make them adopt more undesirable behavior.
The best way is to train them with positive reinforcement. If your pet does something good, reward it with a treat or a reassuring pat, while dissuading it with a firm “no” if it gets too unruly. Both partners should participate in behavior training, so that your pet will learn to obey you both.
#9 Socialize your pet. Some breeds get along well with other pets and people, while some require a certain amount of training to be sociable. This is important if you and your partner expect frequent guests.
As with housebreaking, socializing is better if started at an early age. A well-socialized pet eliminates the problems brought by their intruder instinct, and lessens its desire to attack and injure. Friendly pets can also add charm to your home, especially if your visitors are animal lovers, themselves.
Pets can either make your settled life more fulfilling or become the cause of problems and arguments, if you are unprepared for the responsibilities. Getting a pet requires careful planning and preparation, as it is a living creature with feelings and needs. Get a pet that suits your lifestyle first, according to your preference next, in order for you to enjoy its benefits.
Next to having children together, getting a pet is one of those relationship milestones that requires a lot of planning and consideration. If all goes well, you can be confident that your little family will be very happy, indeed.
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Paul Timothy Mangay
Paul aka Morty is a keyboard-pounding cubicle-dweller based in Manila where he occasionally moonlights as a writer for anyone in need of his mediocre word-strin...